It started with a pain in the ass. When Nate Jones originally reported health issues way back when the team was basically still stretching in Glendale, it was for a gluteal strain. He recovered long enough to appear in two games and face five batters. Of those 5, he walked 3 while allowing the other two chances to hit the ball. They obliged and he failed to record a single out. ERA: infinite.
The gluteal strain reappeared and that was that. While out of commission, it morphed into a back issue which extended his stay on the disabled list and while progress reports along the way were never completely encouraging, nothing seemed particularly damning either. Until Wednesday afternoon when it was announced that the short-lived White Sox closer had undergone Tommy John surgery on Tuesday.
Jones’ presence, or lack thereof on the White Sox this year may have had a veiled impact on the overall performance of a bullpen that has seemed more than one pitcher away from being productive. An additional effective arm out of the bullpen can have a domino effect on the play of others as they are called upon less and in situations more suited to their skills. Nate represented the bullpen’s highest hope of missing bats, and without him, they didn’t miss a whole lot of them despite a terrible need for it.
On a more encouraging note, two other early active roster exits are on the cusp of coming back into the mix. Avisail Garcia’s new shoulder will be making an appearance in Charlotte for a rehab stint. According the the White Sox beat writer community he’ll be taking on DH duties Friday and will be worked into the outfield in days following as he gets back into the swing of things. He’ll have a traveling buddy in Matt Lindstrom who will be testing out his repaired ankle.
Obviously, Avi’s return has much more impact than Lindstrom’s, both in expected contribution for the immediate future and for the long term. Garcia’s eventual return to the lineup may also disrupt the De Aza/Viciedo corner outfield setup which will be upsetting to…probably somebody, I don’t know.
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